Those who have undergone major neck or back surgery in recent weeks, have most likely experienced residual pain. Traditional open spinal surgery requires fairly large incisions and disruption or removal of a substantial portion of the spinal anatomy. In addition, after spinal fusion, the body will take time to adjust to the new presence of metal or plastic hardware. In short, postoperative pain is normal. Yet, at some point, the pain should fade. If it does not, or if it actually begins to get worse as time goes by, FBSS (failed back surgery syndrome) must be considered.
Symptoms of FBSS
What are the symptoms of failed back surgery syndrome? The most obvious is persistent chronic pain that is not associated with the healing process. Here are a few of the symptoms. All may vary in severity:
- New pain at a level different from the location treated
- Inability to recuperate
- Restricted mobility
- Sharp, stabbing back pain
- Numbness or pain radiating through lower back into legs
- Back spasms
- Anxiety, depression, sleeplessness
- Potential dependence on drugs for pain treatment
What to Do if You Suffer From FBSS
If you suspect your back surgery has failed, the first step is to inform your family physician, as well as the surgeon who performed the procedure. It is important to precisely follow the postoperative instructions laid out by your medical team. Deviation from the instructions may make it more difficult to diagnose FBSS. Your physician will likely attempt conservative treatment – pain medication, physical therapy, etc. – in an effort to alleviate your chronic postoperative symptoms. If chronic pain persists after several weeks or months of conservative treatment, contact Laser Spine Institute to determine whether a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure performed using endoscopic technology may be able to help you recover.